7 Best Practices for Selling on E-Commerce Marketplaces

To sell more online, you must have a marketplace presence.

Of course, you already know this. Savvy brands and retailers are well aware that competing online means capturing more market share from Amazon’s 100 million Prime members, eBay’s 168 million active global buyers and Walmart’s 127 million monthly visitors.

What you may not be aware of is the immense array of opportunities that can be leveraged to dominate these and dozens of other marketplaces. From pricing to advertising, the mountain of steps to master gets higher every month. If you don’t climb them, your competitors will.

Bottom line: The days of just listing on modern marketplaces are long gone. There are advertising campaigns to manage, buy box positions to compete for and fulfillment processes to streamline. And that’s just for starters.

In this eBook, we’ll walk you through proven practices for supercharging your success across mission-critical marketing, selling and fulfilling activities.

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Table of Contents

Marketing:

Marketplace success starts when your listings land in front of the right, ready-to-buy customers — at just the right time:

Best Practice #1: Targeted Marketplace Advertising
Best Practice #2: Optimized Product Content

Selling:

Sellers can greatly improve marketplace performance by focusing on strategic pricing, expansion and customer engagement:

Best Practice #3: Engage with Customers
Best Practice #4: Structured Pricing Strategies

Fulfilling:

To truly excel on marketplaces and increase e-commerce sales, fast and affordable fulfillment is critical:

Best Practice #5: Automate Fulfillment
Best Practice #6: Diversify Your Carrier Strategy
Best Practice #7: Ongoing Growth

The Future of E-Commerce Marketplaces

Best Practice #1: Targeted Marketplace Advertising

If there’s one big challenge every experienced e-commerce business has faced, it’s this: Until you develop a solid marketing strategy, standing out on marketplaces will remain an uphill battle. Without the right ads, your listings may never rise to the top of search results or reach the right customers. If you want to increase visibility and sales, strong marketing is a must.

Best way to do that? Make the most of advertising opportunities offered by each marketplace. For example:

Marketplace Advertising

On Amazon:

Sellers that use a full suite of advertising options on Amazon tend to grow two to three times faster than those that don’t.

Amazon Sponsored Products can be used to promote individual listings. This type of targeting leads to higher-quality clicks from shoppers who are searching for highly specific keywords associated with your product, and can yield a much higher ROI than many other pay-per-click programs.

Amazon Sponsored Brands can be an effective way to reach consumers who are browsing but don’t yet know what they want to buy. These banner ads promote products right on top of search results to make more people aware of the items you sell.

Amazon Coupons allows you to create compelling promotions in the form of digital coupons that show up in marketplace search results. Offer discounts as either a percentage or set dollar amount, and target select customer segments wherever possible.

On eBay:

eBay Promotions Manager and Promoted Listings have been shown to boost sales and exposure by as much as 11% and 30%, respectively, for sellers who use them regularly

eBay Promotions Manager is designed to help sellers create compelling offers that grab the attention of buyers and encourage them to spend more. You can use it to promote deals and offer incentives that will reward shoppers for stretching their wallets.

eBay Promoted Listings gets your listings in front of consumers seeking out specific products. These ads follow shoppers throughout their buying journeys, with prominent placements in search results, product review pages, related items and more. You pay only when a sale is made, making Promoted Listings an especially low-risk, cost-effective strategy.

Best Practice #2: Optimized Product Content

There are product listings shoppers see, and product listings people buy.

The difference? Optimized product content.

It’s not just what you list that matters, but how your listings are structured. Product titles, images, descriptions, keywords and categories are often what compel consumers to make purchases. The more convincing the content you use to reveal your wares to the world, the more likely a listing will be to rise to the top of search results and drive more purchases.

As your product data is fed to marketplaces and transformed into listings, high quality content can be the difference between a product that stands out and one that gets buried — which is why a growing number of retailers and brands are relying on robust data feeds to ensure product information not only meets the unique standards of each marketplace, but gets noticed as well.

Best Practice #3: Engage with Customers

How will you connect with customers on Amazon? What can you do to provide exceptional customer service through eBay and Walmart? How will you compel people to come back and purchase directly from your brand the next time they turn to Google Express? How well you engage with consumers will have a direct impact on sales and loyalty. Some 54% of consumers will stop doing business with a seller if they have a bad customer experience. But provide exceptional experiences, and repeat purchases are likely to ensue. On marketplaces, this will take many different forms, including:

Review and Ratings:

Generally speaking, your top focus should be on maintaining positive reviews and ratings everywhere you sell. Seller reviews from fellow consumers influence purchasing decisions for 95% of shoppers — so how you address one consumer’s needs can influence buying decisions for nearly a hundred others. The trust you build in the process will go a long way in connecting with customers across channels. On Walmart.com, for example, seller feedback on other marketplaces is a key factor when applications for this invitation-only marketplace are reviewed.

Response Times

In the digital era of live chat and social media, consumers aren’t willing to wait. Nearly 40% expect issues to be resolved with a single interaction. Replying to complaints and inquiries is so critical that marketplaces have created a term for it: Contact Response Times, or CRTs. According to Amazon, orders with messages that are responded to within 24 hours receive 50% less negative feedback than messages with response times above 24 hours. Poor performance in this area can even lead to account suspensions, while high CRTs can increase your chances of winning top selling positions like the Amazon Buy Box.

Returns

How you handle the returns process will go a long way in securing customer loyalty and favoritism. While more than half of online shoppers avoid sellers with strict return policies, the opposite is true of the more generous ones: 95% will continue to buy products after having a positive return experience.

Reply to customer queries as quickly as possible — ideally within a day — and don’t overlook the weekends, as these count in your response time.

Best Practice #4: Structured Pricing Strategies

As shoppers become more attuned to the wide array of options for purchasing the same product at different prices, it’s no longer your item details and imagery that will capture their attention. Pricing plays a central role. And having a structured pricing strategy is essential to marketplace success. Two key areas include:

Automated Repricing

A rule-based or algorithmic, is a must for competing on any major marketplace. Whether you want to adjust pricing based on the competition or guarantee more Buy Box wins without sacrificing revenue, repricing tools will ensure those changes are made without delay. The key is to use a system or tool that aligns your competitive prices across channels — think Amazon and eBay as well as Walmart and Google Express — so you can reduce your risk of breaching marketplace policies.

Performance-Based Pricing

A strategy that leverages business rules to create a dynamic pricing structure that’s automatically adjusted based on sales performance. If sales dip, so does the price. When orders occur with more frequency, the cost of that item rises once again. So if you want to keep a product moving, for example, you might set a product’s price to be automatically lowered by 10% when no more than five are sold in a week.

Best Practice #5: Automate Fulfillment

If your fulfillment operations still involve a lot of spreadsheets and manual tasks, it’s time to put things on autopilot. The more you automate, the better equipped you’ll be to speed up delivery times and cut down on shipping costs. For example, successful sellers often use:

  • Intelligent order routing to have each order sent to the most effective fulfillment partner based on shipping speeds, delivery fees, warehouse locations and other factors.
  • Automated inventory management to ensure inventory levels are always up-to-date across multiple marketplaces.
  • Automated shipment tracking to automatically mark packages as “shipped” as soon as delivery is initiated and ensure buyers have the most accurate, up-to-date information on package locations.

Fulfillment Warehouse

Best Practice #6: Diversify Your Carrier Strategy

Today’s marketplace consumers don’t just expect fast and reliable fulfillment. They demand it. Having consistent access to the most competitive carrier pricing and delivery options is imperative if you want to stay ahead of these demands. It’s important to have a full range of options at your fingertips, so you can go with the fastest, most affordable delivery method for each and every order. For many shipping scenarios, it’s best to use private carriers like UPS and FedEx. For others, a lowercost option like USPS may be ideal. Diversifying your carrier strategy — rather than relying on one single option — is now a necessity when selling on marketplaces.

There’s no one right way to deliver orders, but as a general rule you should test out different options until you land on a mix that consistently gets the job done quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively. Consider all of your options, including:

  • Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) when you want to entrust Amazon’s fulfillment centers with packing and shipping to ensure the marketplace’s high standards for delivery and returns are always met.
  • Third-party logistics (3PL) when you want to rely on fulfillment experts to warehouse, pick, pack and ship your goods for you.
  • Drop shipping when you want to expand your catalogue far faster than you would by housing or handling more inventory yourself.

Still deciding which fulfillment options work best for your business model? When in doubt, focus on the customer claims and feedback you receive through marketplaces. Is there a common complaint related to delivery? Are certain shipments routinely late or failing to meet expectations? Use this information to make adjustments or decide when it’s time to consider new options.

Best Practice #7: Ongoing Growth

Your consumers are everywhere — and you should be, too. Amazon and eBay may be the go-to marketplaces for many e-commerce consumers, but these are far from your only avenues for growth. If you’re serious about growing an e-commerce business, marketplace expansion is a must. Successful sellers have increased sales by more than 1,000% by expanding to niche marketplaces like Rakuten and Newegg, and by turning to options designed for cross-border trade.

The most important thing is to show up where your customers are shopping. Finding your target audience might mean moving beyond the marketplace giants. Or it may be time to start selling to international consumers through options such as Amazon Global Selling and eBay Global Shipping.

The key to success is streamlined growth. Before expanding to new marketplaces, have a process in place to keep marketplace management from becoming overwhelming. For most e-commerce companies, the easiest solution is relying on one centralized platform that’s built to integrate with dozens of different marketplaces for optimized listings, fast fulfillment and more.

Global Marketplaces

The Future of E-Commerce Marketplaces

Marketplaces are amazing channels that can elevate your online presence and boost your performance. But standing out from the crowd with so much competition is a common challenge for brands and retailers. Following these seven proven practices will allow you to connect with more customers, optimize operations and, ultimately, grow sales like never before.

Master Your Marketplace Presence with ChannelAdvisor

With more than 2,900 customers selling on more than 100 e-commerce marketplaces worldwide, ChannelAdvisor can keep you ahead of the latest marketplace trends.

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